The Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax was clearly on Mayor Allen Brown’s mind as he gave the first State of Hinesville address of his current term.
Brown gave his address during the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce’s Progress Through People luncheon, held Thursday at Connection Church in Flemington. His reasons for supporting bringing SPLOST back included a need to boost the city’s revenue and services.
“I say we’re in pretty good shape for the shape we’re in,” Brown said about the city’s current fiscal status. “And, of course, what hurt us real bad was when SPLOST didn’t pass.”
Liberty County voters rejected renewing the 1 percent SPLOST in November 2014.
“We’re in sound fiscal shape, but we still experience pretty flat revenues,” he said.
Brown added that expenses are rising.
“But our conservatism with the budget has resulted in us holding off on a lot of capital purchases that can eventually impact the level of service we can provide — for example, police cars,” he said.
The mayor added that “things like SPLOST help compensate for some of those missing revenues,” in reference to the “almost $300,000” revenue decrease in the general fund budget over the last five years.
Brown also discussed the recently announced retailers that will be taking up shop at the new Oglethorpe Square shopping center next year.
“And as my friend says, this is a game changer for Hinesville,” Brown said, referring to Kenneth Howard, the executive director of the Hinesville Development Authority. “This is a big deal. It’s going to bring people from places that haven’t come here to shop. And that’ll help everybody, especially if we get SPLOST back.”
“Did I mention that we need to get SPLOST back?” Brown said, drawing laughter. “I’m not sure I said it enough.”
City Council meeting
The Hinesville City Council held its last meeting of the month later Thursday.
Paul Simonton of P.C. Simonton and Associates Inc. presented a construction project update on the wastewater treatment plant on Fort Stewart.
He said the project, a year after its start, is about 50 percent complete, but is still 30 days behind schedule. Simonton said he still expects the project to be completed by October.
Odor-control equipment for the plant was delivered slightly damaged after it struck tree branches, as well as not being built to specification. Simonton said the delivery was rejected, and the equipment company examined the equipment to see what could be done.
During Mayor Pro Tem Kenneth Shaw’s report, Hinesville police Chief George Stagmeier presented March’s crime reports and pointed out that there were 26 entering-auto reports, up from seven in February, and there were already 26 entering-auto reports so far in April.
Stagmeier said police had identified four individuals who are suspected of being responsible for the majority of the entering-auto crimes in the city, and he expects the number to go down.
District 3 Councilwoman Vicky Nelson announced during her report that all of the lanes on Veterans Parkway will be open Tuesday. The road has undergone a widening project for nearly two years.